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Concert Program Cover

Third Concert of the 67th Season

Stories in Sound!

Sunday, March 5th, 2006
Cordier Auditorium
Suzanne Gindin, Conductor

  The Four Seasons -- Spring Antonio Vivaldi  
  Jessica Gottesman, solo violin  
  Casey at the Bat Frank Proto  
  Patrick Blackwell, narrator  
  Concerto for Alto Saxophone & Chamber Orchestra (Mvt. 1) Robert Muczynski  
  John Leszczynski, alto saxophone
Bishop Dwenger High School, Fort Wayne
Winner of the MSO High School Concerto Competition
  Star Wars: Main Title John Williams  
  Harry Potter Symphonic Suite John Williams
(arr. Brubaker)
  Two Arias from Don Giovanni Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  

"Madimina! Il catalogo questo"
"Là ci darem la mano"

  Patrick Blackwell, baritone
Debra Lynn, soprano
  Music from Spider-Man Danny Elfman
(arr. Wasson)

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  L'Inverno (Winter, from The Four Seasons) Antonio Vivaldi

The Manchester Symphony Orchestra continues its series of seasonal performances of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons with a rendering of Spring. Each of the "Seasons" is a Baroque concerto, and each is an early example of "program music." That is, music that is intended to suggest extra-musical events, or even tell a story without the use of words. Although we associate program music with the Romantic age, there are reports of such music from as long ago as 400 B.C. Program music has always been popular, but has never appealed much to the critics, who prefer "absolute" music. That is, music such as Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, or Ravel's String Quartet, which don't "mean" anything. They are just music. Perhaps an analogy could be made with the paintint style known as trompe-l'oeil, a fool-the-eye photographic realism. Program music is like trompe-l'oeil, loved by the public; frowned upon by the critics. It is only fair to say, however, that even the critics have approved of program music from time to time. Good music can be enjoyed without one's being aware that it is trying to tell a story.

Vivaldi gave specific details concerning the "meaning" of each section. Each concerto was accompanied by a sonnet, perhaps written by Vivaldi, himself. You should be able to hear the twittering of birds, the murmuring brook, a thunderstorm, perhaps a barking dog, and finally, a joyous dance.

  Casey at the Bat
(Poem by Ernest L. Thayer)
Frank Proto
(b. 1941)

Frank Proto was born in New York City in 1941. He studied at the High School of Performing Arts, and then the Manhattan School of Music, where he earned his Master's Degree. His preferred instrument was the double-bass, a risky choice given the paucity of solo works for that instrument. Proto met this challenge by composing a number of works for the double-bass, to the delight of bassists the world over.

Proto did not confine himself to the double-bass but wrote also for other soloists. Doc Severinsen commissioned a Carmen Fantasy based on Bizet's opera, and Proto wrote a spectacular version which has been commercially very successful.

Casey at the Bat has also been very successful. The poem, of course, is very well-known, although the author considered it a minor work, not worth claiming. Proto cleverly related his musical themes to the very American theme of baseball. The piece opens with crowd noises, ,and then the narrator sets the stage for the crucial final plays of the game, when Mudville is on the verge of losing. There is a slow plodding march with a rising motif ... almost oriental in character, and foretelling doom. The only hope is that mighty Casey might pull off a miracle. With a surprising two-men-on-base, there is the twittering of agitated strings suggesting the excited expectation of the Mudville supports. Three orchestral thumbs suggest the arrival at third base. And finally, Casey approaches the plate. At this point, the music becomes quintessentially American with a very jazzy section reminding us of just how American baseball is (although the music will remind some of a strip-club!)

Each time the ball is thrown, there is a dramatic crescendo. After the first strike, there is a reference to Dvořák's Ninth Symphony, the well-known largo often referred to as "Going Home." Once Casey has struck out, there is an ironic refernce to Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

  Concerto for Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra, Op. 41 Robert Muczynski
(b. 1929)

Robert Muczynski was born in Chicago. His music sounds unmistakably modern but does not belong to a well-defined school. It has a driving energy, reminding one of now Prokofiev, then of Khachaturian, and occasionally of Rachmaninov. At least theose characteristics are found in his piano music. Obviously, Muczynski was fond of the 20th century Russians. But then there is a touch of French wit, reminding us of Debussy and Poulenc. In other words, Muczynski is eclectic. Until recently, "eclecticism" was an insulting term, implying lack of originality. It is coming back into favor, just a little, as people realize that we are all influenced by someone, whether we choose to imitate, or perversely, NOT to imitate. Prof. Muczynski is refreshingly candid about his approach. He said that the most important factor in composing was spontaneity, and that "to plan too much is to lose the spontaneous feeling."

  Star Wars (Main Title)
Harry Potter Symphonic Suite
John Williams
(b. 1932)

The theme of today's concert is Stories in Sound! Not all compositions "tell stories." There is much "absolute" music, which (like abstract painting) is music that stands on its own, without reference to a subject. here, we have examples of "program music" both for the concert hall and as film scores. One might think that film scores are always fitted to the story line, but that is not the case. Some film scores simply set a mood, or even are intended simply to sell records. A film might just have rock music as a background. The extreme opposite is "Micky Mousing." That is when the music responds to every visual cue; a person looks at something with surprise, and the music "jumps." John Williams has written both sorts of film scores.

Williams has won more Academy Award nominations than any living composer, and ties Alfred Newman for the all-time record. He is best-known for his richly orchestrated scores for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series. His earlier works, though original, and well-liked, bear little resemblance to his later works. the score for The Missouri Breaks, for example, can best be described as a blues-western piece, featuring a harmonica. Johnny Williams (as he was known then) wrote a lot of jazz scores.

When George Lucas was making Star Wars, he watched a lot of old Errol Flynn swashbucklers, and shared his enthusiasm with Williams. Consequently, that score and many to follow, sound very much like Erich Korngold, the Austrian refugee who scored so many of those early films. Listen to the score for The Sea Hawk, or the title theme for King's Row, and you will think you are hearing John Williams.

Among the scores that fit the "Korngold pattern" are, in addition to Star Wars, Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Jurassic Park. Today we hear the Main Title from Star Wars, and the Symphonic Suite from Harry Potter.

  Two Arias from Don Giovanni Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The operas of Mozart are, for the most part, light. Mozart considered them all light, even Don Giovanni, which he referred to as dramma giocoso. Don Giovanni differs from the rest in treating deeply serious matters in a jocular way.

The two arias we hear today were chosen because they are often used in films, and usually those sections of the films that deal one way or another with morality, or lack of it. Other times they are used for the sake of irony.

"Madamina! Il catalogo questo" (Dear Lady, this is the catalog) is a rapid-rife list of Don Giovanni's conquests: "In Italy, 640. In Germany, 231. One hundred in France. In Turkey, 91. But in Spain, already 1,003!" It is sung by Don Giovanni's servant as a consolation to Donna Elvira, a previous victim. The gist of it is, "Don't blame yourself; you weren't the only one deceived!" It was used in the movie Guarding Tess.

"Là ci darem la mano" (There, you will give me your hand...) is sung by Don Giovanni to Zerlina in an attempt to seduce her. Zerlina is about to succumb when Donna Elvira interrupts the two and spirits Zerlina away. This aria has been heard in many films, including It Happened in Brooklyn, Smiles of a Summer Night, and (of course) Don Juan DeMarco.

  Music from Spider-Man Danny Elfman
(b. 1953)
(arr. John Wasson)

Danny Elfman is, like John Williams, a prolific composer, and, like Williams, started out composing in a very different genre from his current film music. Williams began as a jazz composer, Elfman as a rock composer. Now, both of them write for large symphonic orchestras. While Williams' music is noted for its soaring melodies and rich textures, Elfman's is characterized by driving rhythms and much percussion. His admiration for the music of Bernard Herrmann is apparent.

Elfman was still writing and performing in a rock group known as Oingo Boingo when he attracted the attention of director Tim Burton, and ended up scoring almost all of Burton's films, most notably, the Batman series. He also scored films for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings series.

For Spider-Man, Elfman used a large, conventional symphony orchestra, but added a number of exotic percussion instruments, which he played himself. He used everything from garbage cans to African and Indian drums.

An interesting decision was to write two themes for the main character, one that would work when the shy and troubled Peter Parker was on-screen, and another, more dramatic one to accompany him when he was acting as Spider-Man. While one is tender and sweet, and the other is bombastic and heroic, they both share a common motif.

Among his other film scores are Dick Tracy, Darkman, Men in Black, The Silence of the Lambs, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and the theme for The Simpsons.


Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

  Violin I
Dessie Arnold, Concertmaster
Jessica Bennett
Linda Kummernuss
Ilona Orban

Violin II
Joyce Dubach *
Martha Barker
Janice Eplett
Heather Hufgard +

Jessica Jacoby +
Julie Sadler
Margaret Sklenar

Brook Bennett *
Martha Craig
Jason Ney
Sarah Reed +
Tony Spahr
Sara Thomas

Darrel Fiene *
Sam Gnagey
Mark Huxhold

Jena Eichenlaub +
Allison Hoover +

Kathy Urbani *
Jena Eichenlaub +
Allie Hoover +
Sara Kauffman +

George Donner *
Nyssa Gore +
Deana Strantz +

English Horn
George Donner *
Nyssa Gore +
Lila D. Hammer *
Aimee Gerdes

Bass Clarinet
Mark W. Huntington

Erich Zummack *
Amy Cox

Cameron Hollenberg *+
Brittany Cook +
Tammy Keirn
John Morse

Steven Hammer *
T.J. Faur
Jason Lucker

Jon Hartman *
Larry Dockter
Scott Hippensteel

William DeWitt

Dave Robbins *
Rob Dymond +
Michael Holler +

Megan Stout

Alan Chambers

Marilyn Secton-Maxon *

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
Dessie Arnold, Concertmaster and a native of Indianapolis, earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance with Honots from Butler University. Her most influential teachers include Eddy Brown (a pupil of both Hubay and Auer), David Ehrlich, Larry Shapiro, and Sherry Kloss, with whome she is currently studying. In addition to post graduate study in music, she also earned an A.A.S. degree in Computer Science with Highest Distinction from Purdue University and has worked as both a software engineer and technical writer.

Ms. Arnold has been a member of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic since 1984, of Off Broadway Chamber Ensembles since its founding in 1994, and of her string trio, Musica D'Arco since 2001. Ms. Arnold was concertmaster of the Huntington College orchestra from 2000-2003. She has performed in orchestras, chamber music groups, and as a soloist in Indiana, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Venezuela, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Ms. Arnold's hobbies include hiking, reading, cooking, and playing chamber music. She is married to ecologist Richard Dunbar.
Patrick Blackwell, bass-baritone, continues to expand his repertoire in opera, oratorio, and musical theater with some of our foremost young artist programs. A house singer with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, he made his debut there in 1997 as Burnah in the acclaimed world premier of Anthony Davis's Amistad and later performed Henry Davis in ite premier of Street Scene, Cal in Regina, and Duke of Verona in Roméo et Juliette.

He made his New York City Opera debut as Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata and Colline in La Bohème and later sang Leporello in Don Giovanni, Zuniga and Morales in Carmen, and Baron Duphol in La Traviata. He has also performed with the New Jersey State Opera, Florentine Opera, Augusta Opera, Western Opera Theatre, and Forth Opera. His Carnegie debut was as the bass soloist in Earnestine Rogers Robinson's Crucifixion. In addition to performing works by Mozart at the Arts Festival in North Korea, he has sung Fauré's Requiem with the Fresno Philharmonic and Osride in Rossini's Mosé in Egitto with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at the Lincoln Center.

He also has credits in musical theater, cast as Joe in Showboat with Rockwell Productions and with LiveEnt in Vancouver, Canada, as an ensemble member, and covered that role. Mr. Blackwell studied with Enrico DiGuiseppe at Juilliard on full scholarship. He began his career as a young artist with the Santa Fe Opera, Houston Opera Studio, the Merola Opera Program, Western Opera Theater, Opera Music theatre International with Jerome Hines, and the Aspen Opera Theatre Center.
Jessica Gottesman, violinist, has studied with Betty Haag-Kuhnke at the Betty Haag Academy in Illinois for the past 14 years and, ad a member of the academy's performing group, The Magical Strings of Youth, since age five, she has played for audiences in Beijing, Taiwan, Seoul, Singapore, Paris, Australia, Austria, and in venues throughout the United States, including the White House and Lincoln Center. This summer she will be a soloist with the group in Rome, Italy. Jessica has studied in master classes with Vadim Gluzman, Aaron Rosand, Gil Shaham, and Ruggiero Ricci.

Jessica, a junior at Loyala Academy, Wilmette, Illinois, is a member of the Dumbach honor-service society there, a winner in the school's solo and ensemble competition for the second year in a row, and has participated in the annual Illinois Music Educators Association District 7 Orchestra for the past several years. Jessica was concertmaster of the Metropolis Youth Symphony, Arlington Heights, under the direction of Dr. Robert Hasty for two seasons and, as a winner of the MYS concerto competition both years, she was a soloist for their annual spring concerts. She was also a soloist on the Music in the Mountains summer concert series in Durango, Colorado. Jessica was a featured solo recitalist in the 2004 Young Steinway Concert Series.